Heymann & Fletcher

Parental alienation is affecting child custody matters

For most parents in New Jersey, their children's well-being becomes the focus of divorce. Parents are usually able to create agreeable child custody arrangements without significant court intervention. Sadly, there are some instances in which one parent goes to extreme lengths in order to unfairly shift custody in their favor, even if is not ultimately in the best interests of their child.

Depending on a child's age and the discretion of the court, a child's opinion might be taken into account when deciding how to split custody. It is in these situations where parental alienation can be especially devastating. First described by a forensic psychiatrist in the 1980s, parental alienation involves one parent essentially brainwashing his or her child into unfairly criticizing the other parent. A recent study discovered that 13 percent of involved parents reported that they were actively alienated by an ex, and it is believed that 22 million parents could possibly be alienated out of their children's lives.

One of the lead researchers on that study noted that the current rate of ongoing parental alienation is exceptionally concerning. She also stated that changes to family law policy could potentially minimize the impact of parental alienation. Other experts on the matter have called on the federal government to help by appointing additional judges who have expertise in family law and claims of parental alienation.

Until significant changes in family law regarding parental alienation happens, parents engaged in contentious child custody disputes might feel understandably frustrated. However, there are still a number of appropriate actions at parents' disposal. When unable to reach an agreement on their own or when modifications are necessary, New Jersey parents can take the matter before a family law judge, who will render a decision on the matter.

Source: parentherald.com, "Parental Alienation Latest News Updates: Why Parental Alienation Is Considered A 'Divorce Poison'", Kristine Walker, Sept. 11, 2016

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